POW | Uniting Climbers to Protect 0ur Winters

POW poster of Angela Hawse climbing a 5.10 crack climb in Indian Creek, utah

Jamming with POW! Angela Hawse, Co-Owner Chicks, on just another 5.10 crack climb. Indian Creek, Utah. ©Ace Kvale

Last week I joined POW.

The purpose of POW is to unite the climbing community on climate advocacy. POW has a vision of a carbon-neutral future and is building a platform for climbers to have a voice on climate change.

As the seasons change, so does our dance with gravity from skiing to climbing. The wondrous transition of the seasons always reminds me of our precious planet Earth.

Planet Earth is something we can’t take for granted anymore. Each year I strive to live more consciously and take more responsibility for my carbon footprint.

In 2016, 7.7 million people in the U.S. participated in some form of climbing. As a community, we have the potential to move mountains. Together we can make positive change for future generations to enjoy the outdoors.

POW! Let’s do this! Let’s tie-in and talk about how we can step up our game.

Our Indian Creek Climbing Clinic

is just weeks away and as we’ll be sinking our jams into Indian Creek’s perfect sandstone splitters, we salute the fight for Bears Ears National Monument.

Indian Creek is one of our favorite climbing places because it’s the splitter crack capital of the world. If you want to take your crack climbing and trad climbing skills to a new level, Indian Creek is the place. But the best part of climbing in Indian Creek is its scenic beauty and remoteness.

Spring and rock climbing provide the amplified nature fix that Kitty talked about in her recent Doldrums post. We all need nature to reboot our outlook on life.

Fighting our way up a perfect crack climb gives us untold POWer that translates into everything we do.

So, hurry up already!

Join Chicks for all-women camaraderie, campfires under the stars and learn how to take your crack climbing technique to the next level.

Sign up now because there are only a few spots left on our Indian Creek Climbing Clinic.

Come jam with us and let’s get down to getting fired up!

Two Scoops –  Favorite Spring Climbing Areas 

Elaina Arenz, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, applying just the right amount of pressure in the amazing and surreal, Joshua Tree, California. ©Greg Epperson

Elaina Arenz, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, applying just the right amount of pressure in the amazing and surreal, Joshua Tree, California. ©Greg Epperson

One of the questions I get asked the most is “What’s your favorite climbing area?”

Honestly, “Where’s your favorite place to climb” is akin to asking, “What’s your favorite ice cream?”

It depends.

When it comes to ice cream, I could be in a mint-chocolate-chip mood, a salted-caramel-gelato mood or a strawberry-cheesecake kind-of-mood.

When it comes to climbing, since right now I’m ready to thaw out after winter, I’m in a warm-sunshine kind-of-mood.

My favorite spring climbing areas are Joshua Tree and Indian Creek.

Both Joshua Tree and Indian creek are sunny desert places!

Joshua Tree has 6000 climbs in an amazing and surreal setting. No cell service, deep orange sunsets, stars, friction and traditional climbing.

Friction climbing means many of the handholds and footholds are invisible. But when you carefully apply just the right amount of pressure, you stick. Friction climbing can be humbling and amazing when you discover what you can hold onto.

Joshua Tree is also a favorite because of its traditional climbing history. You have to place gear and build anchors. Placing gear adds a gratifying technical element. Fixed protection, like bolts, are rare but there are many climbs in the easier grade ranges. New trad climbers can work out the physics as they practice placing gear and building anchors.

Indian Creek is my other favorite sunny-desert, spring climbing area. Indian Creek is also a trad climbing Mecca.

However, gear at Indian Creek is easier to sort out.

Indian Creek is the land of the exalted splitter crack that goes on for an eternity.

Often 8-10 of the same-size cam makes up an Indian Creek rack. Then, the (mostly) parallel-sided crack systems tend to have bolted anchors.

Bolted anchors free your attention to focus on the climbing technique itself.

Crack climbing technique requires jamming skills—stick a body part (usually fingers, hands or feet) into a crack in such a way as to gain purchase.

There is nothing like a bomber hand jam!

So pick your favorite flavor and if you can’t decide, go ahead and order up two scoops;)

Sending Indian Creek with Chicks Climbing

Tobie “McSends” attended the first Indian Creek clinic in 2012.  With the desert season only a few short months away, we took a few minutes to catch up with Tobie and learn why the Indian Creek clinic is still one of her favorite experiences.  She entitled this post “Indian Creak” as she feels she is old and creaky, yet it is still the perfect place for her!

Indian “Creak”

Tobclimbing_Indian-CreekI registered for my first Chicks clinic, Red Rocks, with about ten or so total “climbs” under my belt and I use the term loosely, some were really more like steep hikes. The experience absolutely blew my mind.  The confidence and camaraderie that came from climbing and camping with women, coupled with these phenomenal women they call Girly” Guides – we’re talking funny, smart, talented women who should all pretty much lead nations and have their own talk shows – helped me find abilities I didn’t dream of.  When I heard about the Indian Creek clinic, featuring the guides from Red Rocks, I was in!  You had me at Dawn and Kitty!

The Indian Creek experience exceeded my expectations.  It is so true, there is something about being in that desert.  And the climbing experience was like nothing else.  Attributes that aren’t so useful in daily life (skinny fingers, long gangly gibbon arms, ability to conjure a plethora of jokes about cracks) really came in handy!  And this sort of climbing did seem to Anchors_Kitty-Calhounbe an equalizer – it was new enough for the experienced climbers and different enough for the athletic folks that there was a universal beginner vibe that added to the bonding that happens at every Chicks clinic.

I loved it so much I went back to Indian Creek the following year.  And dammit if it didn’t happen again.  All of the excellent stuff from first clinic – awesome guides I want to be like, beautiful, serene setting, challenging but accessible climbs – with the addition of another group of astounding women.  It is true – I started doing Chicks to become a better climber and that has happened.  But Chicks clinics, and Indian Creek in particular, accomplish much more.  They are a chance to be vulnerable, supported, challenged, mentored, entertained (and entertaining for some), humbled, and built up in an environment of strong women and awe-inspiring nature.  This is an experience I wish I could gift to every woman – climber or not.

The next Indian Creek clinic starts April 8.



Yurtini Love

Chicks enjoying a bit of good weather.

Chicks enjoying a bit of good weather.

I love to go to the desert in the spring. There is something that draws me to the harsh landscape year after year as the winter weather fades. As I grow tired of being cold, I look forward to the bit of heaven known as Indian Creek season. The weather is typically perfect in the desert in late April. The temps are warm, but not hot. You can see the flowers and trees come to life after a long dormant spell. I enjoy  the sun as it warms the crags and thaws me out. The desert is the best place to be when the weather is good.

However, it is still spring and the weather can be very unpredictable. We all wish for the perfect blue bird days, but the reality is that there will still be days of complete crap weather. This past weekend our Chicks Rock clinic got a chance to experience the full spectrum of what mother nature has to offer. We saw perfect sunny days, as well as driving sleeting rain and wind gusts above 40 miles an hour. It was a true test of our gear.

Fortunately for our group, we had the Mountain Hardwear Yurtini. This floorless ten person tent provided our big group a perfect reliable shelter to gather in. The Yurtini easily accommodated 11 people and 3 big dogs as the storm raged on. We gathered our camp chairs around the center pole and used our coolers as tables. It was a cozy place to share stories, bond as a group and hide from the elements. Without this tent, I do not know what we would have done.

Photos and blog by: Girly Guide and Mountain Hardwear Athlete, Dawn Glanc.
Chicks love Yurtini

Chicks enjoying dinner in the Yurtini.

Chicks Rock! Spring desert trip discounts!

We are offering a spring buddy deal through March for our desert clinics in Red Rocks and Indian Creek. Bring a friend and get a discount. Easy, right?

If you sign up for either Chicks Rock! at Red Rock or Indian Creek with a friend BEFORE March 31, you will each get $75 discounted from the cost of the clinic. Sign up online and we will refund this amount in the mail.

For individual enrollment: if you sign up for ether Chicks Rock! at Red Rock or Indian Creek before March 31,  you will get a $50 discount. Sign up online and we will refund this amount in the mail.

2013 Women’s Rock Climbing Clinics

Beginner to Advanced Climbers Welcome!
Spring Desert Trips
– Red Rock Canyon (Nevada) spring clinic: April 11-14 (3 days climbing) $930, optional multi-pitch April 15 (4 days climbing) $1,280
– Indian Creek May 1-4 (3 days climbing) $975, optional tower climb May 5 (4 days climbing) $1,350

Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin
– Women’s Intensive Clinic, July 26-29 (3 days climbing) full package: $975, daytime package: $795

Girly Gatherings
Sponsored by Sterling Rope
– The New River Gorge, West Virginia, Sept. 27-29 (2 days climbing) $375
– Keene Valley, Adirondacks New York, Oct. 4-7 (3 days climbing) $650

Fall Desert Trip
– Red Rock Canyon (Nevada) fall clinic Oct. 24-27 (3 days climbing) $930 with optional multi-pitch day Oct. 28 (4 days climbing) $1,280

Indian Creek trip report!

This is my Indian Creek trip report from my personal blog (so you get to read my “real” voice!). It was super fun to climb in the Creek again, including on three lines I did during Chicks Rock! but was SO MUCH BETTER AT this time around, which goes to show how much you get out of a Chicks clinic! I am super psyched to go back to the Creek again this spring with Chicks Rock! Will I see you there?

Since I still haven’t fully written my trip report for the Bugaboos, I decided to work on one from Indian Creek because that only makes sense, right?

I was super psyched to take a trip to the Creek this Fall, since climbing there this Spring made me fall in love with rock climbing.

Wait, that’s a bit too bold of a statement.

It actually made me *want* to go rock climbing more than I previously did, which was not very much (for a variety of reasons, but the primary two being: there is nowhere to rock climb within 4 hours of where I live (so the motivation has to be high), and I kinda suck at rock climbing which makes it not as fun).

BUT. I learned at Chicks Rock! in Indian Creek this April that I suck a lot less at crack climbing than I do at face climbing. Hooray! So that is why I started to want to rock climb more, and agreed to take rock climbing vacations twice this year! (Generally, I only vacation to ice climb, so it was a big deal for the boy to get me out on two rock climbing trips with him.)

The view from our campsite.

Alas, I digress. So, for those of you with little patience let me put it out there that the Creek in early October is AMAZING. It was not too crowded with pretty warm days (we were chasing the shade for sure) and perfectly cool nights that had you snuggling into that sleeping bag. The landscape was also surprisingly green, much more so than this spring when the washes were full of water, which was very surprising to me!

Indian Creek is stunning in the Fall! View from Supercrack Buttress.

Our goal was to climb for two days, take a day off to “rest” and then climb for three more days and we hired Danika Gilbert to guide us. I have climbed with Danika many times on ice – she took me on my first multi-pitch climbs in fact, and has really been an inspiration for me to go out and gain the skills I need to be independent enough to climb backcountry ice.

Lucky for us Danika has also been climbing in Indian Creek for more than 20 years. The funny part is she *just* bought a guide book for this trip. She generally operates on the ‘let’s drive over to this wall and walk around and see what looks fun’ methodology, which I think is totally awesome to be at that skill level and ability!

We were looking to crag most days so that we could get direct instruction and advice from Danika on the ground. While multi-pitching is suuuuuuuper fun (especially on a desert tower), it isn’t the best way to get BETTER at crack climbing, which is what we were hoping to do on this trip. It was especially important for the boy who had never climbed in the Creek before or had any real formal instruction on crack climbing technique.

We flew into Grand Junction and rented a car there then picked up some supplies and headed to Moab for a few more things before heading into the Creek and the Bridger Jack’s Campground. We turned in at Beef Basin and the road was totally sketch (for me, anyways) with our little car. I would say the road to the campground is definitely best suited to a vehicle with high clearance! Danika later told us that it was in much worse condition than it had been earlier in the spring, but it was a really, really lovely place to camp at. The sites were large and not very close to the neighbors. I had been expecting a total s*it show like I have experienced while camping on other climbing trips, so I was pleasantly surprised with the accommodations, even if it came down to pooping in a bag.

Morning at camp site No. 3 at Bridger Jacks.

So, about that. As many of you may (or may not know) you can’t really bury poop in the desert very well. Not like you can in the forests of North Carolina, for example. Within Indian Creek (which is on BLM land) there are just a handful of pit toilets, but they may be several miles away from your campsite (and down a heinous road best suited for 4WD vehicles, for example). It is actually really nice because most of the camping in the Creek is primitive and free! In order to manage human waste the Friends of Indian Creek provide Restop bags (aka “wag bags”) at several dispensers (suggested donation is $2/bag). Here is a video made by Friends of Indian Creek about the importance of using these!


Needless to say, we donated quite a bit of $$ for these precious bags. Which, of course, I thought was totally fun, especially because when we would go by a pit toilet it was like heaven to actually sit down behind closed doors and all. It’s all about perspective, people, now let’s go climbing!

Day 1: Danika was driving in to meet us at our campsite, having spent an extra day at home because she had been kicked by a horse the day before (!) and had some major swelling in her shin/calf and hand. Not an awesome thing to happen before going crack climbing! But, Danika is a super trooper and we headed up to Donnelly Canyon for the boy to get his first taste of Indian Creek crack. We started out on Chocolate Corner, which was a pretty nice hand size for me, but felt like thin hands for the boy. I’m glad we went here day 1 because thin hands on day 1 would potentially turn into uber-thin hands or even fingers once the Creek swelling sets in. We taped up with a different method than I’ve used in the past, which resulted in the tape bunching up and instant gobies on my first climb. SWEET. These little b*tches would subsequently open up and bleed under my tape gloves for the next four days of climbing.

Chocolate Corner, first crack of our fall Creek trip!

Anyways, Chocolate Corner was a super fun climb, and we each ran two laps on it. My second was heads & tails different than my first. For some reason I was feeling really anxious at the start of the day – maybe it was too much coffee? By the time I settled down I was able to really get into a good groove though. After Chocolate Corner we opted to do Elephant Man, after a nice couple from the Yosemite Valley area came over and climbed it. We again did two laps on this route – there were a lot more face features for feet, so we didn’t smash them up too bad. Binou’s Crack was also on the docket for the day, but we decided that four laps on the day was enough – we didn’t want to go buck wild and kill ourselves on day 1 so we headed back to camp.

Day 2: After studying the guide book, talking about what crack sizes we would like to work on, and considering it was a Saturday, we decided to go to the Way Rambo wall, which I was pretty excited about because that is the site of where I did my very first three Indian Creek climbs this past April with Chicks Climbing. I thought it would be fun to try to get on a few of them again to see how much I had improved – and boy have I ever!

We started out on Rochambeau, which was my first climb at Chicks this Spring, but this time I climbed it cleanly. I was so psyched (and under pressure) because this was the “perfect” hand size for the boy so he was going to have an easier time all day. I can’t even imagine what a difference my climbs must have looked from April to October since I’m sure this past Spring I hung on the rope a gazillion times while figuring out how to jam.

Thankful to have long enough legs for this awesome rest stance on Fuzz.

We then decided to put up Fuzz, which is a LONG (115 foot) rope-stretcher of a climb that gets increasingly steep – but with (my) perfect hands towards the top. At Chicks I had flailed and failed on Fuzz, but this go around and despite some intense feelings of FREAK OUT with the boulder-y start, I didn’t fall until I was a lot higher, and now that I am more comfortable with jamming, it wasn’t long before I was at the chains. I was so psyched after cruising the upper part (which I hadn’t even made it to this past Spring) to find some perfect sizes that I could really make work!

Now we are into *perfect* jams on Fuzz!

Our third climb was again a climb I had done at Chicks called Blue Sun. I had actually wanted to do this climb first on the day since I knew that by the end of the day sore hands and feet tend to get the better of me. Again, this was a climb I had not made it to the top of during Chicks, but I sure did this go around! I fell a few times towards the top mainly because I am a sissy and my feet were HURTING. It is a great size for super secure feet, but the twisting and torquing on feet that aren’t used to it can get pretty painful fast. That night I actually saw that I had really bruised the tops of my feet pretty solidly! Ah, the joys of crack climbing – the most physical kind there is (for me, at least!).

Blue Sun, definitely one of my favorite climbs in the Creek!

The boy on Blue Sun (right) while some fun kids from the Boulder area climb an offwidth to the left. They were smart enough to bring beer with them!

Day 3: We scheduled Sunday to be a rest day, and drove up to Arches National Park to do some hiking. We knew we were taking a risk heading into prime tourist territory, but figured it would be worth it to see some of those amazingly sculpted pieces of rock. And it was, sort of. I mean we often don’t go to places that are super touristy, and every time we do I remember why. People are dumb. And annoying.

Balancing Rock. I think. I just threw away all the park literature LAST NIGHT. Oooops.

The road that goes through Arches NP is not very long – maybe 22 miles or so? (I just threw away all the literature literally last night! (doh!!)). There are a gazillion turn offs for scenic vantage points & small little highly groomed trails. We were most interested in making the hike out to Delicate Arch, even though we had been told that Hell’s Kitchen would be better for “us” (i.e. less people). But, we felt that if this arch is important enough to be on the Utah license plate, we should probably go see it.

OMG. I got a picture of Delicate Arch without the mullet dude in it!

The trail to Delicate Arch is pretty easy and well traveled. It is also marked by a gazillion cairns in case you are worried about getting lost. Once we got to the arch it was full on supidity with people lolling around under the arch forever to get their photos taken, or eat lunch, or to basically ensure no-one else could take a picture of the arch without their dumb ass in it. This one dude with a mullet parked himself underneath it to drink some water and then make ridiculous gang sign poses for his equally idiotic hiking buddy to take photos of. I’m sure now that they are on Facebook somewhere that guy is totally getting all the ladieeeeeessss, thanks to those sexed up pics, oh yeah!

Did lightening strike? Second photo with NO people.

When I saw the arch had been vacated for a while so everyone waiting for a picture of just the arch (without all the white trash America – I mean, there were literally ASS CRACKS hanging out in that arch!!!) I ran down for the boy to get a quick photo of me underneath it so my mom could get a sense of the scale. We ate some lunch snacks here and then quickly bailed to go to Hell’s Kitchen.

Me, being an asshole under the arch. For 2 seconds, I swear!

We stopped by some other arch that had a short hike into a slot canyon before getting to the full-on insanity that is the parking lot at Hell’s Kitchen. At this point we are not psyched on the gaggles of people but bust a move and make it a little ways past Landscape Arch before calling it a day and heading back to Moab for a shower (which felt AMAZING) and dinner at the Moab Brewery.

I so wanted to climb up this squeeze and grab the rock to do a pull-up so the boy could take a picture for me to submit to the CrossFit mainsite. Alas, it didn’t happen. It was soooo slippery. He even tried it and it was just too much. Another time!

At the brewery we had an EPIC Chicks Sighting as I saw Cheryl & Kate walking into the restaurant at the same time as us. Literally two minutes previously I had opened up FB on my iPhone and seen a photo Kate had posted of the two of them in Moab and I said to the boy “huh, how random, I have friends in Moab right now.” So it was even more random to see them! I screamed Cheryl’s name from across the parking lot which totally alarmed her, and then ran up to give Kate a hug telling her “I’m Maija!” like ‘duh, aren’t you excited to see me?!?!’ It was great since we have heard so much about each other, but never *really* formally met (and Kate is like 1000x more awesome than I even imagined!). So, the boy and I were lucky enough to eat dinner with these two gals, who I will be climbing with in Bozeman in just a few weeks! And later again in Canada next March (so.freaking.psyched.for.that.trip to the GHOST!!!).

Chicks sighting! You never know when & where it’s going to happen!!!

On our way out I got some dairy-free gelato, which was amazing. But, I was so focused on getting a dairy-free treat (since dairy can make my guts feel yuck) that I ordered it in a waffle cone, chock full of gluten, which I didn’t think of until the whole thing was down the gullet. When I mentioned it to the boy he said “yeah, I was surprised you ordered the cone.” Sometimes I need help, people, serious help! I felt like total dog poo the next morning too thanks to that gluten, when we headed up to the Battle of the Bulge.

Day 4: So until the last climb of the day I was all, “damn, did we LOSE the Battle of the Bulge?” because it seriously was feeling like I did until about 5:30 p.m. (FYI: The Allied Forces did WIN the Battle of the Bulge.) This day of climbing was going to be all about yucky sizes for me, including off-widths. Yeah! Not so much. The boy loves that ish and I am not as much of a fan. We started out on The Warm-Up which was a fine enough climb, but had a few FAT hands (i.e. cupped hands for me). At the base there was a flake we could practice our chimney climbing technique, so we did that and continued working the pitch hoping one of the other climbs we had been planning to do would open up. They didn’t because there was some kind of a splitter camp going on which involved major climb hoggage (more on that later).

We ended up going to Elbow Vices which was a climb that had everything from hands to fingers AND a squeeze chimney. While Danika and the boy climbed the route with their left side facing out, I was completely unable to move in the squeeze chimney in that direction. So, I turned around and faced out right and then grunted, wiggled, swore and wedged my way up the chimney. It felt like HOURS of work. After the chimney the rest of the climb was actually pretty fun. But it was hot and I was grumpy when we were done. By this point we were fully entrenched with this splitter camp who promised we could totally “use our ropes!” for a few other climbs in the same corner. Lucky for the boy he got to climb Pigs in Space which looked like a super fun climb with MY perfect hands. But, these a-holes in the splitter camps didn’t really mean for us to use the ropes, they actually thought we should belay for them. At one point all 3 of us were belaying. WTF was happening? I was so mad. I just wanted to get out of there and go climb something as it was already getting late in the day. The boy belayed this older lady (who had seemingly learned nothing in the camp about how to climb cracks) for what had to have been at least an hour trying to climb Pigs in Space. I kept waiting for her to tell him to lower her as she fell dozens (literally!) of times out of the crack. But kudos for her to making it to the chains!

Finally we pulled our rope and bailed and left that train wreck behind. Speaking of trains, we went to climb Railroad Tracks which was WAY harder than it looked. The start looked nasty for sure, but past a small roof there were twin cracks, which tend to usually be very awesome! They were not. The start was as heinous as it looked with tight fingers and no ‘real’ feet; I had to try it about three times before getting off the ground, and then move past the thin fingers to thin hands. The twin cracks were actually awkwardly spaced and the sizes flared dramatically. I made it to the chains and then lowered two more times to work on different approaches to the parallel cracks. Laybacking the majority of the upper section actually worked the best.

Finally, we put up a line on Unnamed in the corner just near Railroad Tracks where I finally had a good, fun climb. It is always super fun to climb a line cleanly in the Creek, and that I did on Unnamed. Actually, come to think of it the majority of routes I climb cleanly in the Creek are all “Unnamed.” Random. Or, it could be just because there are like 100 of them. So I didn’t lose entirely at the Battle of the Bulge. Had I not been an idiot and eaten gluten the night before maybe I would have cruised the squeeze chimney. Hahaha. So not likely, but I can just tell myself that.

Day 5: This was the day of classics for the boy. He gets really psyched on climbing lines that have some historic significance, whereas I could care less. I just want to climb routes that are fun, I have no interest or investment in climbing lines that are “classic” for reasons X, Y or Z. So, Supercrack Buttress it was!

There she is, Supercrack. Also known as the arm eater!

We actually were the first party to make it to Supercrack that day, which was amazing. Supercrack (aka Super Crack of the Desert, Luxury Liner) was the first crack put up in Indian Creek. It has a most ridiculous bouldery start that I fell on at the top at least three times before figuring it out, and finally I got to the splitter. Make no mistake, this is a pure splitter crack that just goes straight up. Until the small lip/roof it was a reasonable hand size for me, but past that point until the chains it was DEEP. I was reaching in to my elbows to get a cupped hand jam. I was in so deep that it was more secure to shuffle my hands than pull them out to move, which meant each meter of movement took more and more skin off my forearms. I was very aware of this happening but what could I do? I wasn’t going to bail on Supercrack! When I came down the two guys waiting, Nick & Psyched Will, were like “oh yeah, you should’ve totally worn a long-sleeved shirt.” Really helpful stuff there.

It’s always badass to get scraped up, right? The best part is how horrified everyone in public is that sees these things as they heal. Of course at my CrossFit gym no-one thinks it is out of the ordinary at all. I bleed often there, too.

We then went over to the Incredible Hand Crack and got behind a party of two guys. The leader had just climbed it in about two minutes and his partner, who has not done very much crack climbing, was anxious about us having to wait on him to climb. I assured him it was no problem, my forearms were (literally) oozing and I could use a rest since the boy was having elbow pain I was on extra belay duty for him. Plus, I like watching other people climb hard stuff. So Ronnie (the guy who was wearing ouchie-tight sport shoes on a hand crack) really struggled to get past the roof and despite the (perfect) beta his partner Jack had, he just was too frustrated to continue working on it. I felt bad since I think it was partly due to the increasing number of folks waiting to get on the line, but that’s just a part of climbing. Sometimes you have to wait for these classic lines and so if you are climbing you need to just do your thing and not worry about anyone else. But, it was his choice.

At the cruxy part!

When it was our turn I used Jack’s beta and it was awesome. It was such a fun size. The roof was definitely awkward, but I made it past that faster than I thought I would. After the crux it is truly just an AMAZING hand crack with the added bonus of having feet features on the wall, a rarity in the Creek and oh, my toes couldn’t have been happier!

Almost to the FUN part. For a “classic” this is a pretty fun one, no doubt.

We then went a few climbs to the left to 3 AM Crack. It again had some pretty big hands at the top – so big I couldn’t even get a fist! But it was pretty fun to compare my lap to the boy’s because where he had trouble with the crack I cruised, and vice versa. Funny since his hands don’t really seem that much bigger than mine, but the certainly are when it comes to jamming! We were pretty worked by this point and opted to work on a new technique for cleaning anchors that doesn’t require me to untie from the rope (holy hell, I’m so glad I learned this!) and practiced placing gear before heading back to camp.

3 AM Crack butt shot.

Day 6: This was to be our desert tower day. Danika thought Sunflower Tower on the Bridger Jacks would be a good option for us, but the idea of climbing a hard multi-pitch route on Day 6 was not sounding like fun. So, I proposed a trip to the South Six Shooter, which both Danika & the boy were also keen on. It is a much “easier” route although it involves a lot more walking. I wanted us to end the trip on a good note, not a frustrating one!

Danika’s truck saved us hours of walking this creek bed!

Danika’s truck was able to drive super far into the approach, literally saving us hours of walking up the dusty creek bed. We then hiked up the plateau, and then the cone to the three pitch climb, which we took a funky variation on the second pitch, having to completely step over the void to a separate pillar (which really didn’t have any hands or feet). I convinced my shoes to get extra sticky for the move, and they wisely complied. The top out on the climb involves a full-on pull-up after having done a belly mantle, so it isn’t necessarily the most graceful. But, it is fun to be on top of a desert tower.

Hrmmmm, how do I want to step from this to that when there are no hands or feet per se…

OMFG I am doing it.

So funny how our time climbing in the Bugaboos has made us so ‘relaxed’ towards exposure now!

We were glad to have done the South Six Shooter and end the trip on such a high note. I know the boy is anxious to get back to the Creek in the spring. I really love that the people in the Creek aren’t all douchey like they seem to be at so many other climbing areas. Everyone we hung out with during the trip was super cool and just out to have a good time (except for this one girl who was the epitome of MISERABLE! It was too funny. She just hid behind her sun glasses and hat cried and complained about how she wanted to go back to the front range and go sport climbing on credit card crimpers. Apparently she isn’t used to hang dogging and was getting spanked trying to follow the lines her boyfriend was putting up. It was maybe even funnier that he was pretty much ignoring her, and wouldn’t lower her until she really through a fit and then promised he’d get her tacos if she would stay longer. I am pretty sure they left.). But everyone else was again, super nice and helpful. They loan and retrieve gear for other people and share lines (for the most part).

There is no doubt that it is physically tough to climb in the Creek! I am taking a “recovery” week from rowing to all my flared up old injuries calm the F down. I’m really hoping that by next week I am back to my old self, because I have some training to do! Ice season is just a few weeks away!!! Oh and my Level 1 CrossFit cert is this weekend. Lots going on!!!

I tried really hard to get these pants to stand up on their own for a photo, but I guess they were not yet *that* dirty. They are pretty grubby though. Six days of straight wear in the desert will do that (and I LOVE IT!)

Reflections on Indian Creek from Chick Kelsey McMaster

“Dumbo didn’t need a feather to fly, he only thought he did.”

Dawn Glanc, one of our inspiring guides made that brilliant climbing analogy while coaching during the Chicks Rock Indian Creek climbing clinic.

I met Dawn during the Winter Teva Games at an ice climbing competition that she was competing in.  She connected me with Kim Reynolds whom graciously gave me the opportunity to be the event photographer for the Indian Creek clinic.

I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I had to do this for the photographer and passionate climber in me.  Even if I couldn’t crack climb, I had to try and accepted the job.  So off I went to Indian Creek, understanding that I would learn a lot.  Little did I know I was going to have a life-changing experience.

From arrival to departure, all of the ladies were super sweet and supportive.  Everyone pitched in and went out of the way to ensure no woman was left “hanging”.  It really instilled a teamwork atmosphere and sense of community even though we were together for only a short time.  There was a lot of joking, laughter and fun during the approaches, climbing and back at camp; the camaraderie was good and set the trip to a great tone.

Indian Creek was the perfect setting for this clinic to take place. The cracks were perfect for climbing and in contrast to city living survival, we were enabled to concentrate on the present, with each other, and in our own mind, body and spirit.

I’m not sure that we consciously recognize how much the distractions of the concrete jungle occupy our thoughts and emotional energy, but it makes it hard to get in touch with oneself and connect with others.

None of the guides stood for bad attitudes or any negative self-talk which provided a safe environment for vulnerability and learning to take place.  It forced a kind of self-respect and love.  If you were struggling, it was ok. I struggled, and it was ok.  It showed me my strengths and weaknesses that I need to work on. It put priorities into perspective.  It got me in touch with myself and I was humbled.

Climbing can be a very revealing sport.  It really shows you and those you are with what you’re made of.  I wasn’t expecting to be faced with so much, but because it was a safe environment it was ok, and I was able to experience a lot of healing, perspective and self-love.

“Its weird leaving the comfort of one crack for another crack,” said Chick Tori Labs while mid route.

That’s just it though, isn’t it?  Humans love comfort.  It’s nice, easier and well… it’s comfortable because it familiar.  Climbing anything- whether it’s rock, ice, crack etc., many are faced with fear that can come in a variety of forms.   However, because of this, climbing enforces a kind of mental training that makes you overcome obstacles whether it’s physically, emotionally or spiritually.

It’s good for us to leave comfort however scary or hard it is because part of fostering the developing of character is leaving a comfortable place whether it is in life or in the middle of a route on a cliff face.  So when Dawn said, “Dumbo didn’t need a feather to fly, he only thought he did,” it made sense because climbing is such a mental game.  That feather was Dumbo’s comfort; he could fly the entire time, he just had to believe it.

I learned so much from this clinic, nothing I ever expected.  I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to climb with and learn from the Chicks guides.  They are well-rounded, strong women that are beautiful to the core.  Women that I not only now call friends but women I respect and look up to.

So much wisdom was shared on just this one adventure and now we Chicks can pass it onto others.

All photos courtesy of Kelsey McMaster.

Chicks at the Creek!

Will I be able to even get off the ground?

Chicks in the Creek!

That’s what I started to worry about as the Indian Creek Chicks Rock! clinic drew closer. Although my introduction to the world of climbing was through rock, ice is definitely where my heart is – and has been – for the past several years. However, last year I had my first taste of crack climbing and kind of really dug it. It just seemed like my kind of climbing. Repetitive (like ice), formulaic (my brain likes this), and dirty (in chimneys at least) where grunting is fully acceptable. So, when I heard about Dawn spearheading a Chicks Rock! clinic in Indian Creek, I knew I’d be a fool to not go. I mean what better place to learn how to climb cracks?  Even though I do work for Chicks Climbing I’d only ever gone out to Chicks with Picks ice climbing clinics because I just didn’t ever feel the same passion or drive for rock climbing, so I really felt like I was stepping out of my comfort zone signing up to climb in the Creek.

My tent at the Chicks campsite. Nice views, eh?

The day we arrived was a windy one. Dawn, Kitty, Kim & base camp manager awesome-sauce Julie were ready and waiting for us, helping tie tents down with rocks and guide lines. (Note: if you camp in the desert bring lots of guide lines!). At our initial meeting we learned Julie would be providing dinners all week (which were not only delicious, but VERY healthy!) and got totally unexpected prizes from our sponsors and supporters at Marmot, JetBoil, Osprey, Pistil, Omega Pacific, Sterling Rope, Isis, Luna Bars, Fox River Socks, Katy’s Handjam, CHUMS and Beyond Coastal.

Kitty, who is so good at coaching through the mental game.

However, the most important part of the initial meeting was the talk Kitty gave us about climbing in the Creek. While I can’t begin to do it justice, in short she said we should not measure our ability to climb in the Creek on previous climbing experiences. Success would not come by measuring up to previous face climbing grades or having expectations of what you “should” be able to do, or feeling entitled to climbing at a certain grade or ability. As I looked around I could tell that I wasn’t alone in my concern of getting off the ground. I was actually relieved that NONE of us had ever climbed in the Creek, and we had no idea what to expect from the absolutely beautiful perfect splitters we’d be climbing.

Chicks shenanigans. Don't ask me why I thought it was cool to stick out my stomach while posing.

And really, what made me feel better was just knowing I was here with Chicks. Based on my previous experiences at Chicks clinics I knew wouldn’t feel pressured to do anything I didn’t want to do, or be made to feel poorly if (and when) I struggled. So, my sole focus was to learn how to climb cracks right – what techniques should I use, how can I stay in balance, where to find good rests, how to control my breathing (and heart rate) – and that was exactly what I did. Topping out was simply an added bonus!

Food, water & a cooler for the Creek!

I had the pleasure of being in Dawn’s group for the clinic, which I was really excited about since I’ve never gotten a chance be in her group during the ice clinics, and I always hear from her girls about just how much fun they have (and how much they learned!) afterwards. An added bonus was that my hands are very close to the size of Dawn’s, so if she described a climb as having perfect hand jams, I knew I’d have them too.

Tobie "McSends" getting after it at Way Rambo.

Day one we headed to “Way Rambo,” where we made our tape gloves and started to jam. I found Dawn’s method of instruction to be very helpful. She would demo the climb talking about how she was jamming – big hands, fingers, fists, etc. so that when we got on we’d have an idea of what to expect. Even though our group had two ropes set up at almost all times, we generally opted to all climb on one before moving to another. It was different from how I approach climbing in Ouray where I’m all for laps, laps, laps! But the focus on technique, plus the added bonus of having Dawn watch every one of us climb, and my concern for burning out (and losing massive skin) by the final multi-pitch day helped keep my excitement tamed. Not to mention that learning to climb crack is really hard! It was funny how different sized cracks could feel so different. Instead of getting “pumped” while climbing, I got exhausted cardiovascularly. It was a feeling as if I had just sprinted a 100m dash at world-record pace – I was often just gasping for air!

What a gorgeous line this was ("Blue Sun")! See the moon, too?!

So, at Way Rambo all of our fears of not being able to get off the ground were laid to rest as we climbed “Rochambeau” to start things off. Next up was “Fuzz” which had a burly little start that we all had quite a bit of fun with. The last climb of the day was “Blue Sun” which was absolutely my favorite of the day thanks to the PERFECT hands and aesthetic line. The scariest part of the day was cutting off the tape gloves. I felt like I was going to slice my wrist open so Kitty helped me out which was maybe scarier? Here she is sawing away with what felt like an exact-o blade over my wrist. Of course I came out unscathed and psyched for more climbing!

Tobie on "Power Play"

Day two we went to “The Fin” wall and started out on “No Beggin’” before chasing the shade over to “Walkin’ Talkin’ Bob” which had quite a bit of face moves actually (my nemesis!) but was a totally fun route. While we were climbing Julie showed up with a backpack full of cookies, gummy worms and COLD fizzy water which she had oh so casually hiked all the way up to us. That’s how she totally won MVP of the trip! Anyways, since we’d only really climbed hand cracks thus far, Dawn offered to put up another hand line, or to move up to a fingers route. We voted fingers and went off to climb “The Piano” which was just flat-out fun. In fact, I’m not sure if it was more fun to climb it, or to cheer on the other Chicks sending and coming down with smiles that could light a million bulbs.

My best climb was this "unnamed" gorgeous line.

On the third day we went to the Power Wall where we started out on an absolutely gorgeous unnamed splitter hand crack before moving on to “Batteries Not Included.” On this day we actually kind of got to see Kitty’s girls climbing, which was really fun as they tackled a line called “Flower Power” which included a very crux-y move from one crack to another using just your fingers! We finished the day on the finger crack “Power Play” which was again so much fun – I really think part of it is because it’s such a challenge and workout that the joy of sending overwhelms! However, for those with Kitty-sized hands (.75?) you could totally hand jam that line.

Dawn belaying on the South Six Shooter

All the ladies in the clinic had opted for the multi-pitch day so Kitty took her ladies to Castleton Tower where I’m sure they had a blast, while Dawn & Danika Gilbert took the rest of us to the South Six Shooter. The approach was, well let’s just say we missed our path so we got the scenic (and previously untouched by man) route. We also got lessons in spotting pups climbing chimneys! The weather was actually looking a bit sketch during the approach but at the base was steadily improving. Climbing with Tori & Dawn we took a left-facing crack up the first pitch instead of the standard route, which we linked up with on pitches two and three. Topping out was just amazing – the view was absolutely incredible! There was quite a bit of wind which meant Dawn carefully held our line on rappel to make sure we didn’t end up blowing to the opposite face (which *felt* like it could happen it was blowing so hard!).

Tori & I at the top of the South Six Shooter. North Six Shooter is behind us.

Although I have no idea what Kitty’s girls were climbing for most of the trip since they were always *just* around the corner from our group, they definitely sat around the campfire at night with perma-grins like the rest of us, dirty, happy and shredded after climbing, so I feel confident in saying they had a great time too.

I really find it hard to express just how much fun I had on this clinic – not only was the climbing just out of this world fun, but the ladies I had the pleasure of climbing with in Dawn’s group kept us bursting with laughter (Tobie & Tori!) for the whole trip. I also fell madly in love with the desert. Camping out was such a treat in the dead silent, crisp night. I could tell how late in the night it was based on the moon shadows in my tent and I love that. In fact, I’m already obsessively trying to figure out how to get back to the Creek this fall, with some fellow Chicks, of course! Next spring I will definitely be at Indian Creek again with Chicks, it was such a fun trip I can’t recommend it enough – from the bike to the bathroom to the ever-awesome Julie (who always has chocolate available) this was definitely a trip to remember!

P.S. I wish I had more pictures of the other girls but I don’t…yet! When we get them all together I will post an album on the Chicks Facebook page 🙂

P.P.S. The next Chicks Rock! event is at Devil’s Lake, Wisc. July 27-30. There are special discounts available for those who sign up by May 31 – details here! We also have a clinic scheduled for the New River Gorge Sept. 21-23 and one in the Adirondacks (Keene Valley) Oct. 5-8 and will be announcing our fall Red Rock clinic dates soon!

Maijaliisa Burkert is the Marketing & Social Media Chick for Chicks Climbing. Learn more about her work at High Altitude Media here.

Saying goodbye; promises of new beginnings

Holly Mauro at Bridal Veil Falls. Photo by Carolyn Riccardi.

Here on the Chicks Climbing Gossip Report you can catch up on all of the great gossip (articles, videos, and other assorted cool stuff) we talked about over the past week at Chicks Climbing.

We had some sad news to report last week, Chicks alumna Holly Mauro, a true ambassador of our Chicks with Picks ice climbing programs passed away at the young age of 32. Fellow alumna Carolyn Riccardi wrote a lovely tribute to her which we posted here. Carolyn is also helping to organize a memorial for Holly, which will be taking place in the Gunks of upstate New York this Saturday, April 14. All are invited – for details please send a message to Carolyn via FB here.

The good (and big!) news from Chicks this week is that because we still have space available, our upcoming (and inaugural) Indian Creek trip is now open to any women rock climbers, not just Chicks alumnae! However, you do need to be able to follow a 5.9 on top rope. This three-day clinic focuses on intensive crack climbing April 27-30, with an optional multi-pitch day May 1. Check out all the details here, and contact us ASAP if you want to sign up!

Our March newsletter also came out recently – did you get it in your inbox? If not, you can check it out here, and then sign up on the Chicks website to get it delivered safe and sound from now on 😉

We also posted a fantastic trip report from Kitty Calhoun who traveled with fellow Girly Guide Dawn Glanc and their spouses Jay Smith and Patrick Ormand to put up new lines in Iceland. If you haven’t read it yet you can check it out here.

We have officially swapped our puffy coats for tank tops since it is rock climbing season, and are psyched to have Sterling Rope back on board as a sponsor for our Chicks Rock! programs. Read about why we <3 Sterling Rope here.

Have you checked out “Chicks Chat” section of the website yet? We got some great feedback from Chicks alumna Annie Hughes on how to make lead progress, check out her words of wisdom here.

Don’t forget to check us out on Pinterest, where we are archiving many of the cool articles we link to. But be warned, it’s a total time suck! If you are on it too, hit us up with your link so we can follow all of our fellow climber Chicks! You can find us here:

Did we miss any cool stuff this week?  Let us know if you’ve got a link to some climbing-related goodies so we can share with everyone else!

– Why aren’t women climbing harder than men? Andrew (@EveningSends) has a theory:
– Ladies! The AAC (@AmericanAlpine) is looking for female members to help host women’s exchange program w/Iran in Colorado!
– Youth! Climbing kids are taking the world by storm:
– Why, after nearly 20 years of climbing Alli Rainey (@allirainey) still feels like “I Am Still SUCH a Climbing Beginner
– David Lama Onsight Solo “Oh I think I’ll just climb that wall over there…”
– Amazing! In Kyle’s first year doing ice/mixed climbing, he sends the hardest mixed route in Hyalite (M12):
– Wow, our friends in Devil’s Lake have been busy getting after it already this season on the boulders:
– A nice “how-to” on crack climbing written by Steph Davis (@highsteph)
– Some great, old school footage of Catherine Destivelle climbing in Mali:
– From banking to climbing – a great story from the AAC:
–  Love & Epics in the Middle East
– Seven sweet bouldering spots in Utah:
– Female Footage Fridays from Climb on, Sister! (@ClimbOnSister) this week features Dragonfly Low (V9).
– For those with kiddos, a great post from Erica (@cragmama) for how to keep those adventurous toddlers safe climbing:
– Daila Ojeda makes the cover of Grimper!

–  Matterhorn disintegrating in the face of global warming:
– NEWS: Climbing wall death due to knot failure. Check your harness.

Training & Nutrition
– Guess what Britain’s two-time world champion swimmer, Liam Tancock is adding to his training regime? ROCK CLIMBING!
– Looking for something new for breakfast? How about these baked eggs with goat cheese and spinach in bell pepper rings:
– Uber-climber Beth Rodden on recovery:

–  From the Gearcaster: how to win a crap load of gear:
– Do you prefer wool or synthetics as your base layer? Shelby put Ibex Woolies to the test this winter & loved them:
– Pull-up contest w/great prizes. Many categories, not many entrants, check it out!
– In the market for a Patagonia women’s M10 jacket? ClimbingBetty is selling hers to fund a trip to the Cascades:
– Osprey Talon 22 backpack first look review is up. This day pack has a ton of features and ventilates well

Trip Reports
– Lizzy Scully reports from RRR: Girls (& boys) just want to have fun at the Red Rock Rendezvous:
– New TR from Krysia (@ventrsomekrysia) who did some spring climbing at the Red and got her lead head back on:

– Lovely interview with our dear friend Whitney (@whitneyio) who is also an extremely talented artist – as you will see here:
– Combined passions – rock and art:

Fun Stuff
– $12 of junk food: “I’m not high – I just had a long day out climbing.” New (awesome) post from Brendan (@semi_rad):
– Too cute! Check out Steph Davis’ friend: Sierra’s climbing skirt @ Moab, Utah
– Found by the AAC: “I don’t really know the context here…but it’s offensive.”

If you have a blog entry that you think would be of interest to the women of Chicks Climbing please let us know! We love getting contributed content from other women – anything from trip reports, nutrition and training tips, to videos. We want to share your resources with the community – much like we do with the Gossip Report and are more than happy to re-publish and share links on behalf of the women’s climbing community!

Managing expectations – it’s all in the attitude!

This year I came to Chicks without any concrete goals I wanted to achieve while at the “Complete”. I felt a bit silly sitting at dinner the first night as Kitty asked each of us what we were looking to accomplish and learn during the next four days. Jen, Carol and Deb – my group ‘mates’ for the “Complete” – each had specific objectives they wanted to focus work on. I only wanted to remain positive, and not get frustrated with my climbing – as simple as that. In my mind this was the year I wanted to see how climbing really felt and how I felt about climbing. Did I really enjoy doing this? Was my heart really in it? Could I go out and have fun doing it every day? What I needed at Chicks was a check of my head space.

Having fun on a VERY crowded fourth pitch of Dexter Slabs

In the past year I finally learned – or perhaps came to understand – just how detrimental my own negative self talk was in my climbing. I would get mad at myself for having to weight the rope, frustrated that I couldn’t stay calm and find more opportunities for rest where I could take a few deep breaths and shake out. I simply always *expected* myself to climb better than I was – whatever that meant – and when I didn’t have what I deemed to be a “good” climb, I’d come back down to the ground frustrated and angry, which always affected not just my next climb, but also had an impact on the people around me, who would then expend their own time and energy trying to make ME feel better. Looking back, I’m embarrassed at myself because, of course, getting mad about weighting the rope is ridiculous. How else do you ever climb harder routes, or become proficient at climbing on different features on the ice? I’d left Chicks in 2011 with just the beginning of understanding how my negativity was affecting my performance. But it was just an awareness of the effect that was enough to get me moving in the right direction.

At my CrossFit gym I often work out with a woman, Suzie Q, who gets frustrated very easily with her performance. She always expects that she should be able to “do better.” As she gets frustrated everything becomes harder – the pull-ups, the weight she’s lifting, the running, rowing, it doesn’t matter. It was amazing how I could literally SEE her frustration affecting her performance. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was a Suzie Q with my climbing. It was my own attitude that was making the climbing harder than it was! My own mind was holding me back! It was such a revelation because I finally recognized that I had the power to change it on my own. I began to practice it in small doses, and couldn’t believe how effective a change of attitude can be – how much simpler even life’s biggest challenges can be with a positive attitude. So, now that I knew how to apply it in real life the real question remained: could I do it while climbing, the one sport that had in the past brought up the absolute worst in negative self-talk in me?

Putting my new mixed climbing skills to work exiting the rock cave

Kitty asked us to write down our goals before starting out on our first day of climbing. I went back to my room and called my husband, feeling worried that I wasn’t like the others with specific objectives. “What should my goals be?” as if he’d make them for me! Of course, he reminded me what I was out there to do – stay positive, climb hard, and have fun. So I stuck to my intangible goal of assessing my ability to remain positive while climbing, which I hoped would lead me to climb calmly, stay more relaxed, not get pumped, and not come down on myself.

The next day Kitty asked us if we’d written down our goals. Of course I hadn’t, because my single focus didn’t meet her definition of being a tangible goal. So, when she asked what I was going to focus on while I climbed I told her “staying relaxed.” And that’s exactly what I did. I climbed calmly and deliberately, and stopped to “rest” at every good spot I could find – whether I needed it or not. I topped out on every climb without ever being out of breath or feeling the dreaded “pump.” I felt confident in my climbing, solid. But, more importantly, I was having a lot of fun.

Topping out in the Scottish Gullies on yet another fun climb! Photo by Terri Hovarth.

I had a big challenge to face in this attitude makeover during the “Complete”, which I knew would really test my ability to stay positive, and that was a day of mixed climbing. I had a LOT of fun doing it, but boy did I weight the rope that day! However, I weighted the rope with a smile, and took the time to try and figure out the next sequence of moves (thanks Dawn!). I was learning, and that’s what got me to the top of my first mixed climb (twice!). The last day of climbing I was worn out from the strain of the mixed climbing day. My first climb of the day was heinous – lots of time was spent breaking ice off from the overnight spray. My forearms were exhausted. I felt like I could barely grip the tools. I weighted the rope several times. The difference was this time I didn’t come down angry and disappointed at myself. I came down knowing that the next lap I’d send it cleanly. And that’s sure enough what I did.

Working on my pillar skillzzzz! Photo by Dawn Glanc.

I am thankful that Kitty supported my intangible goal during the “Complete,” and kept me focused on climbing relaxed on every lap. As I have experienced every time with Chicks, my guide found exactly what I needed to work on, and kept me focused on doing just that. I have never climbed as strongly or as confidently as I did this year. I’m heading up to Canada next week to take the next step in my climbing, learning how to lead. Thankfully I have finally found the right head space to do just that.

Maijaliisa Burkert is the Marketing & Social Media Chick for Chicks Climbing, and she’s super psyched to climb with Chicks again at Indian Creek this spring!